MVC approves IGI expansion

Commission looking at how it reviews demolitions.

The commission approved IGI's expansion plan which will include new staff housing.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved Island Grown Initiative’s phase 1 of its master plan at its meeting Thursday night. 

The nonprofit proposes a new, one-story, 3,200-square-foot education and innovation center for offices and educational spaces, three seasonal yurts each 16 feet in diameter, and two new employee housing buildings at the farm’s property in Tisbury. All new buildings will be all-electric and include rooftop solar panels. One structure will potentially have a negative energy footprint. Electrical vehicle charging stations are proposed at several locations on the property as well. IGI is working with South Mountain Co. to design and build the project.

The Public Archaeology Lab (PAL) found several sites with “cultural features” that “may be part of [a] previously identified Native American site.” 

South Mountain and IGI previously told the commission they would be able to satisfy PAL’s excavation recommendations. Due to confidential information, PAL’s report is not being released by the commission, but at a Feb. 4 meeting, South Mountain CEO John Abrams told commissioners the “cultural features” were not a burial site.

DRI coordinator Alex Elvin told commissioners that at least one site would have to be excavated, which will require a data recovery plan in coordination with the Massachusetts Historic Commission and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). 

In other business, the commission also voted to not hold a public hearing on the installation location of a flagpole at the Oak Bluffs town hall. The town recently completed its town hall renovation, but due to a communication mishap, the flagpole was installed several feet from its intended location.

Where the pole currently stands, however, is the location the town and the town hall architects wanted it to be, but during the commission’s review of the town hall project, commissioners requested the flag pole be moved so it would not be obscured by future trees or cause wear and tear on the landscape.

Commissioners decided the flag pole could remain where it stands.

Commission chair Joan Malkin took a moment during Thursday’s meeting to reflect on the flurry of demolition requests it received over the past year.

The commission has reviewed a significant number of demolition requests this past year — 12 in 2021, or 20 percent of its total number of developments of regional impact (DRIs).

In comparison, there were two demolitions in 2013, one in 2014, three in 2015, four in 2016, six in 2017, six in 2018, nine in 2019, and six in 2020.

Malkin said that while the commission has updated its DRI checklist to expand its scope on projects, the increase in demolitions has been due to an increase in people moving to the Island year-round, wanting to winterize their homes, or expand.

“My point really is it isn’t anything we have done, it is a reflection of general trends on the Island,” Malkin said. She added that a committee is looking into how the commission’s current policy reviews demolitions.